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Ask Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP Your Own...
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1801
Experience:  DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Practice, Veterinarian since 2000
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Hello, My dog has been coughing up hairballs within the

Customer Question


My dog has been coughing up hairballs within the last week. She is a Pomeranian with lots of hair and is always cleaning herself. Lately she has been coughing a lot and it seems she is trying to cough up another hairball but nothing is coming up. I looked down her throat to see if I could remove it, but I couldn't see anything. Is there something I can give her over the counter to try to dissovle the hairball stuck in her throat?

Thank you for your assistance.

Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 6 years ago.
Hi Debbi,

I am Dr. Devlin and I am a Board-Certified Specialist in Canine and Feline Practice.

Can you answer a few questions for me?

Has Morgan had a kennel cough vaccine or been to the groomer, day care, vet office, or around other dogs in the last 2 weeks?

How is she feeling? Normal just coughing? Or is she lethargic?

Has she had a recent vet exam, and does she have a history of a heart murmur or heart disease? Collapsing trachea?

Does she cough regularly when she is excited?

Is she on monthly heartworm prevention?

Unfortunately, while swallowing hair can sometimes cause irritation and brief coughing, we do not see dogs cough up hairballs. I'm concerned there is another cause, and am happy to assist you further.

Laura Devlin
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Morgan is current on all her shots. She does not have a history of a heart murmur or heart disease.

She has not been to a groomer in over three months, she is not around other dogs, and stays in the house for most of the day. She does not go to any public areas, such as dog parks or walking around the neighborhood.

Her activity level is normal, but does cough quite a bit lately and it's not related to getting excited when people come over to the house. Morgan is very low key and doesn't get excited over things.

Overall, Morgan is feeling great. She still eats her dry dog food on a regular basis. She is not given table scraps or any type of junk food. For an occasional treat, she is given raw carrots. She is not running any fever. She still plays and runs around the house and acts normal except for the excessive coughing. The coughing has been on going for the last two weeks.
When she does cough, it's almost like she is trying to cough something up. We cannot pinpoint exactly when she will have her coughing spells. The coughing spells are periodically during the day and she does not cough at night while she is sleeping.

Morgan did cough up a hairball and I know it is not normal for dogs to do this.

Is mineral oil an option to give her?

Thank you again for your assistance.

Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 6 years ago.

Thank you very much for the additional information on Morgan. She sounds like a very sweet girl.

Typically, although rare, we see dogs vomit up hairballs if they have them... The coughing indicates irritation of the throat, trachea, or lower airways...I suppose there could be a hair irritating her airways, but mineral oil won't help there.

You could use a feline Hairball product available at many pet stores, if you would like to try something similar.

However, I do want you to know that I'm concerned that there is something else going on. At this point, because of her age, and because she is a Pom, I would recommend having her evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Morgan may have a condition called Collapsing Trachea. This will require x-rays to diagnose. It would be unusual for this condition to develop in a dog her age without a history of an occasional cough, but I have seen this happen. The cough is a dry, honking cough.

Another common cause of cough in older, small breed dogs: if she has dental disease or infection in her mouth, it is common for these dogs to inhale bacteria from within her mouth that becomes aerosolized from breathing. This bacteria can infect her throat, trachea, and other airways, and can cause coughing. Antibiotics may be needed.

Also, and I don't want to concern you, but any sudden onset of coughing in a senior dog could indicate heart disease. Coughing can be the only sign in some pets. Your vet can carefully listen to her lungs and heart for evidence of fluid or a murmur, and may recommend chest x-rays (that could also include the trachea) to help rule out infection, heart enlargement, collapsing trachea, and masses.

Definitely don't give her any cough suppressants. I don't recommend the mineral oil at this time.

I hope this information helps - please let me know how else I can assist both you and Morgan.
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 6 years ago.
I'm heading off line for a few hours but will be back later. I just wanted to make sure you didn't need anything else before I go.